The Forgotten Half: Corporate Learning Reimagined

 Let me ask you a question. Tell me how you applied your three biggest takeaways from a training program you attended within the last three years. How about the previous year?

Yep. That’s what I thought.

If you’re like most people, you barely remember one thing you learned when attending a training program unless you had an opportunity to apply your learning immediately.

It’s a known fact that humans often forget what they learned. Yet, companies spend billions of dollars a year trying to equip employees with new skills, improved teamwork, and a culture of continuous learning.

Why Traditional Training Doesn’t Work

Traditional training doesn’t work for a number of reasons, including the fact that unless we immediately apply what we learn, we often don’t retain this information. Here’s what I mean.

Suppose your company conducts a one-day workshop on how to manage people. Topics like how to hire and fire employees, which are essential skills for managers to have, are included in this session. However, many attendees are fully staffed or aren’t currently faced with the challenging task of letting someone go.

Fast forward a year later. A manager needs to terminate someone. Although they may have aced the exercise on this topic in their training class, they botch up the termination to the point where your employment lawyers must get involved. This may come as a surprise to you, but it doesn’t surprise me. Here’s why.

The manager needed an opportunity to apply their learning in real-time. Therefore, what they may have learned didn’t stick.

How to Effectively Teach People the Skills They Need to Succeed

Learning is a process, not an event. If you want your employees to learn new skills and prepare for the challenges ahead, then get rid of your training department.

Instead, provide people with coaches. Before saying you can’t afford to do this, think about how much you’re currently wasting on training. When doing so, consider the opportunity costs that occur when people attend training programs, lunch, facility costs, the payroll cost of your training department, etc.

Coaching works because coachees have a trusted resource they can rely upon in real-time. My coaching clients have unrestricted access to me, which means they can contact me for advice when they need guidance. Most apply what they learn from our conversations right away, which cements their learning.

If individual coaching is not feasible, you may offer peer coaching, where individuals of similar professional backgrounds or interests help each other grow and develop with the help of an executive coach. Participants in these programs benefit from knowledge sharing, accountability, fresh perspectives, support, and access to an expert who can help swiftly guide them through sticky situations.

In an era where every dollar counts, it’s time to closely examine all expenditures to ensure your ROI is worth your investment. Your training investments can and should yield concrete results that will stand the test of time.

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